Salt Magic is the kind of book that makes you glad to read comics. It blends fantasy and history and authentic characters and fairy tale happenings into a story of growing up and protecting those you love.
Writer Hope Larson is no stranger to magical fables. I’m fond of what I think is her earliest published graphic novel, Salamander Dream, which had a dream-like quality to it. Her Mercury, a historical fantasy, is even more similar.
Artist Rebecca Mock previously illustrated Compass South and Knife’s Edge, both written by Larson, and both children’s adventures. Point being, these two creators know what they’re doing and do it well.
Salt Magic begins with Vonceil welcoming her older brother back from the World War to their farm in Oklahoma. He’s ready to settle down, proposing to his hometown sweetheart first thing. Vonceil can’t stand it. She dreams of escape, of seeing the world, and his rejection of his time away, an experience that’s left him scarred, is a bitter taste to her.
Then the glamorous Greda appears, seeking him out. She was jilted by him in France, and in her white car, white clothes, and white fur, she’s everything Vonceil wants. And that’s when the story takes flight. Greda curses the farm’s spring to salt water, and Vonceil sets out on a journey to force the salt witch to remove the curse.
Along the way, she proves that she’s anything but the “ordinary” she feared. There are magical beings and family legends and sacrifices and determination and wrongs put right. This is a fresh take on fairy tales that captures the danger inherent in setting out to change things. At the same time, the story spurs imagination and always drives the reader to find out what happened next.